Reflective Leadership

“Reflective leadership can be considered as a way of approaching the work of being a leader by leading one’s life with presence and personal mastery. In other words, it requires learning to be present, to be aware and attentive to our experience with people in our daily life, and it regards leadership from the standpoint of human experience.”
(Goker & Bozkus, 2017)

As I woke up today, I was hoping to have the answers to life, the universe and everything to celebrate another year of life on this earth. I don’t. I have however managed to keep my plant alive which was given to me by a colleague on Day 1. Everyday it reminds me of new opportunities to create and inspire and renewed purpose.
(I have managed to keep 2 children alive but never a plant).

As much as I am taking a personal leadership journey, one of self-awareness and self-challenge, a whole new dimension is added to the way in which I have reflected on my professional leadership & engagement with my new teams and colleagues in this past month.

People are looking for guidance and direction. People are also curious. They are also looking for a space of trust and psychological safety which is a priority. I am reminded of two situations where I had adopted a more direct approach and on reflection, it required more collaboration; a bitter pill to swallow in many respects.

Walking into a change that was up coming and would impact people and turn their seats and comfort upside down whilst trying to build relationships was pretty exhausting but also maybe too much for the new kid on the block in week 1 and 2. Having said that, basic visibility of work has emerged with some convincing. Maybe a step in the right direction. Basics. Always basics.

It also lent perspective into a new world of product and technology of which I knew little about and oh so fascinating. The environment, the good coffee (oh the coffee) the learnings, the setup, the progressive thinking of the leadership team and support which makes such a huge difference, and most of all the incredible people that make-up the organization. Some have been harder to build relationships with and it is a work in progress as we all are.

What has been most interesting is moving from an “action bias” thinking in a project based delivery world to a more reflective and collaborative approach one where you are constantly in a cycle of opportunity and learning.

Some of the questions on my mind:

What have I learnt? Everyday and writing them down. And being grateful.

What were my feelings and thoughts as it was happening? A leader this week reminded me it has to be head, heart and gut in sync when making a decision. A concept from ” Trillion Dollar Coach”.

How could I explain or relate my experience? Affinity

How could I make use of learning for my future actions? And do better.

How have I reacted and behaved? Constantly observed and could be perceived negatively.

Self-reflection in my own personal experience as I look forward, look back and ask myself, is where I am where I want to be? The need to improve and be better is constantly on my mind.

The question remains: how is being a reflective leader linked to engagement? Looking at it then from a different perspective, dancing on the balcony. Observation and reflection. A concept I learnt at the Women’s Chapter Network.

Context matters. Having the right information on hand to make those quick decisions.

Reflective leadership conveys a sense of collaboration and active listening . Without judgement. Without the willingness to always fix first and soothe. I am a fixer, by default. Just listen. Be mindful and open to the process. And trust the process. Trust the people.

Being in position of authority makes you vulnerable. Very vulnerable. And its exhausting. And you have to brave. And being brave means showing up. As your whole damn self. Everyday. It is hard and have to consciously remind myself to be this.

Looking back on leaders and managers I have had and which ones have inspired and influenced me and which ones reminded of the kind of person I do NOT want to be to my teams. Words matter. People matter. Feedback matters.

Everyday Learn, un-learn and re-learn. Reading books, software posts, leadership blogs and podcasts to be better.

Someone inspiring said to me in these last weeks, Be gentle with yourself. You may not see an immediate difference but know that you have sewn the seeds of change. This, leaves me hopeful to leave my teams better…

Until next time,
Love and light

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